9:30 p.m. at Denver • Pepsi Center • FSN/TNT, 9:30 p.m.
Another one that mustn’t get away
Preview: Welcome to the latest must-win of the Timberwolves’ dwindling regular season. The Wolves stand seventh in the NBA’s Western Conference, just a game ahead of the Nuggets, who ran their winning streak to three games with their victory over Indiana. Denver has won three straight and five of seven. The Wolves had their two-game winning streak ended unceremoniously by Utah on Sunday. The teams fourth through ninth in the West are separated by just two games. The Wolves won both games vs. Denver this season — both in December — but needed Jimmy Butler to score 64 points in those two games. If the Nuggets were to win this game and the season finale at Target Center, they would hold the tiebreaker vs. the Wolves because they would have a better division record.
Players to watch: Wolves C Karl-Anthony Towns had a five-game double-double streak ended Sunday. G Tyus Jones had 15 points, four assists and four steals starting in place of injured Jeff Teague on Sunday. G Jamal Crawford’s seven points Sunday broke a streak of seven games in double figures. Nuggets C Nikola Jokic is hot, having scored 30 or more in two straight games and averaging 26.4 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists in his past eight games. G Jamal Murray is averaging 16.6 points, F Paul Millsap 15.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Numbers: These are two fairly similar teams. Both have strong offenses and iffy defenses. The Wolves rank fourth in the league in offensive rating (110.8) and 26th in defensive rating (108.9). The Nuggets are sixth in offensive rating (109.6) and 27th in defensive rating (109.1). The Wolves have won four straight vs. Denver.
Injuries: Wolves G Derrick Rose (right ankle) and G Jeff Teague (right knee) are questionable. G Jimmy Butler (right knee) is doubtful. C Justin Patton (illness) is out. Denver G Gary Harris (knee sprain) and F Tyler Lydon (knee surgery) are out.